Research into plant based diets may improve Indigenous health

Vegan Australia has again called on the country's leading health body to prioritise research into advocating a whole food plant based diet to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The submission was made to the National Health and Medical Research Council as part of the public consultation for the draft Road Map for Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health through Research. The Road Map will guide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research for the next decade.

In its submission, Vegan Australia suggested that "the Road Map should explicitly prioritise research into advocating a whole food plant based diet to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

"The significance of chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, kidney health and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, is mentioned in the Road Map, but diet, one of the major causes of these diseases, is not.

"While research into improving access to healthy food could be covered in other areas such as public health, preventative health programs, intervention and risk studies, we believe that it is crucial that the health benefits of a whole food plant based diet be explicitly included in the Road Map."

The submission refers to an earlier fully referenced submission to the NHMRC on Indigenous health and to a submission to the Australian Department of Health on how whole food plant based diets can prevent and manage chronic conditions. These earlier submissions look at evidence that Indigenous Australians are at a higher risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and that nutrition is pivotal in the prevention of these diseases. Research shows that diets that contain no animal products give the highest level of protection against these diseases.

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